AMA Urges Funding to Expand MLPs Across the U.S. to Address the Maternal Health Crisis

Thursday, May 16, 2024

By National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership

The U.S. leads developed countries in maternal mortality rates, disproportionately affecting Black and Native American/Alaska Native individuals. The AMA continues to address this crisis, advocating for enhanced medical-legal partnerships (MLP) in their 2024 recommendations to tackle social determinants of health (SDOH) among pregnant and postpartum individuals.

The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (NCMLP) applauds the AMA, the Federation of Medicine, relevant specialty societies, key state medical societies, and rural physicians for their endorsement of the MLP approach.

Bethany Hamilton, Director of NCMLP, remarks, “The AMA’s support for MLP is longstanding, and these recommendations reaffirm their unwavering commitment to addressing the root issues behind poor and inequitable maternal health outcomes in our country.”

In their recommendations and a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, the AMA highlights the Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance’s Perinatal Legal Assistance and Wellbeing (LAW) Project at MedStar Washington Hospital Center as a pioneering MLP focusing on the perinatal period. The Perinatal LAW Project, an integral part of the D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative, is recognized for its efforts in reducing maternal harm and improving health outcomes for mothers and babies.  By providing legal assistance to pregnant and postpartum patients dealing with housing insecurity, food scarcity, and navigating public benefits, the Perinatal LAW Project has made significant impacts, serving over 164 clients and recovering more than $200,000 in various forms of support since launching in 2021.

As the leading authority in medicine, the AMA acknowledges the crucial role of legal professionals in addressing the maternal health crisis. Hamilton emphasizes, “There is no justification for the U.S. to have subpar maternal health outcomes,” and urges the Administration and Congress to “heed the advice of medical experts, who have meticulously crafted a concise and comprehensive set of evidence-based solutions to improve maternal health equity and outcomes.”

“In the U.S., the cornerstone of a flourishing democracy is the commitment to equal justice for all. This principle extends to every facet of life, including ensuring that unmet legal needs never hinder one’s ability to experience a safe and healthy pregnancy.” Hamilton adds.

NCMLP encourages MLP practitioners around the country to urge federal and state policymakers to take immediate and decisive action to allocate dedicated funding and establish clear financing pathways to support the complete range of legal services offered by MLPs.